The guide to buying lingerie as a Christmas present

Claire Walton and Carl Nagaitis

Claire Walton and Carl Nagaitis - Credit: Archant

Lingerie expert Claire Walton offers a flustered male some advice about buying lovely lingerie for his lady’s Christmas gift

Secrets at Tarporley

Secrets at Tarporley - Credit: Archant

There I was, just seconds into my mission to locate, purchase, wrap and ultimately present my better half with a racy set of unmentionables for Christmas when I find myself surrounded.

Bras to the left of me, thongs to my right – and there’s no way out. With basques and corsets up ahead and suspenders behind me I just don’t know which way to turn. Even when I glance over to the window display, four shapely mannequins sporting a variety of silky bikini briefs manage to block my view of High Street, Tarporley.

Fortunately, the stylish ladies who are already shopping at Secrets, one of Cheshire’s top lingerie stores, are too deep in conversation to notice me. On one side the fact that grey, chestnut and mulberry are the top colours for this season is the subject under discussion, while bras and cup sizes are the topics of the day on the other.

The only cup I’d be interested in at this moment – as my face reddens with embarrassment - would be a calming cup of tea! ‘Come on, pull yourself together,’ I tell myself. ‘Don’t panic. You’re in the shop, you’ve got her sizes and you’re within striking distance of finding a set of classy lingerie that will simply delight She Who Must Be Obeyed.’

Hold on! I’ve been spotted. One of the sales ladies has got her eye on me and she’s heading my way. Time to take cover in the relatively safe area of robes and nighties. Keeping my head down I concentrate my gaze on the display ahead...stockings and hold-ups!

‘Hello, do you need any help?’ The friendly voice belongs to Claire Walton, founder and proprietor of Secrets and an expert in guiding the uninitiated through the terrifying world of ladies lingerie.

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‘We get lots of men calling in during the run up to Christmas,’ explained Claire. ‘In fact it’s an achievement for some to get through the door. Over the years I’ve seen quite a few fail to pluck up the courage to walk in, especially when ladies are in!

‘Of course many of our male customers will have been sent by wives and girlfriends who may have seen something they like and don’t want to find it sold out by Christmas, so suggest it as an ideal gift to their other halves.

‘I remember one chap coming in after loitering outside for a while and his first words were “I need a present.” When asked if he had any idea what he wanted, he clearly didn’t. But even those brave enough to admit they are looking for underwear don’t have a clue about sizes required or colours preferred.

‘When I ask about their lady’s sizes the responses I receive range from’ “just normal” to “average”.

‘Some men “borrow” pieces of lingerie from their wife’s underwear draw to ensure they order the right size. Of course that won’t guarantee a perfect fit because it might be an old piece of lingerie that has been outgrown.

‘Without an accurate idea of size it is sometimes better to go for a nightie or a robe’, added Claire, who launched Secrets in Tarporley 14 years ago.

Now Claire has come up with a foolproof system to ensure men always gets the size and style right.

‘We call it the Wish List. It’s a system used by ladies who are regular customers. If the man in their life wants to buy them some beautiful lingerie she creates a wish list of six or seven outfits. She leaves a copy with me – complete with her up to date sizes- and gives the other to her man. When he calls in the shop he knows whatever he chooses will be appreciated and will be in the right size.’

‘Is it really foolproof?’ I ask Claire. ‘Well it works for everybody including those men who call in having lost or forgotten their list!’

Claire Walton’s Guide To Buying Xmas Lingerie

1. Don’t be frightened about coming in. There is absolutely nothing to fear. Your wife or lady friend will be proud of you – and delighted with your Christmas purchase.

2. Check sizes. This is crucial in view of the fact that sizes vary greatly between manufacturers and countries of origin.

3. Check styles. The best way to judge her taste in lingerie is to look at recent purchases and choose styles that are similar.

4. Colour is crucial. Lingerie colours change seasonally – there’s more choice than black, white and red!

5. Be advised by the sales staff at your lingerie store. Styles change by season and they can give you the most up-to-date advice.

6. Remember lingerie needs to suit the occasion for which it is purchased – from playful to practical. Again don’t be afraid to take advice from lingerie store staff. After all, they will have heard it all before.

7. Finally, don’t worry if you make a mistake! Whatever you’ve bought can be exchanged after Christmas.

Secrets stocks beautiful lingerie and swimwear brands. 65 High Street, Tarporley, CW6 0DP. Tel: 01829 733389.

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